Making it in Menswear feat. Brandon Capps

January 28th, 2015

I love to see young guys grow in the menswear industry, study the ins-and-outs of the tailoring business, develop their own style, then start out on their own project. It’s inspiring, especially as I get ready to launch my own tailored collection as part of the new Articles of Style Shop (more on that later). This article is part of a new series I’m calling “Making it in Menswear” where we highlight the career paths of different guys who’ve succeeded in the business. 

When Alex first introduced me to Brandon Capps, a friend from his days in Nashville, I immediately noticed that he ways wearing this incredible pair of high-waisted trousers. The next three or four times I bumped into him in NYC, there we has again, in a perfectly cut pair of 1930s-inspired trousers. In roughly one month I had already seen him wear them with a suit, with a blazer, and with a pair of sneakers. So the next time I saw him, I had to ask: “what’s the deal, you live in bespoke trousers, or what?”. He laughed and responded, “once you find a trouser that fits properly, in a soft fabric, you won’t want to wear anything else”. And then he adds, “plus I love the Hollywood waistband…nobody makes them like this anymore.”

After looking closer, it’s true. I’ve seen very few trousers made this way, with no separate waistband, just the back (and sometimes the front) panels folded over at the natural waist – which is higher than most guys are comfortable with these days. The cut suited his frame, and gave him a certain “Old Hollywood” elegance, even in a dark bar in the Lower East Side.

Brandon always knew that he wanted to move to New York City and work in menswear, but it took a leap of faith to make it happen. In 2008 he was working two full-time jobs in Nashville, TN, saving up to chase his dream and make the big move. And he wasn’t going to let a little economic recession stop him.

    1. Taking the Leap

    mensstylebrandoncapps (43 of 54)

    “As many people remember, 2008 and 2009 were very tough years with the economy. Finding a job was extremely difficult. Thankfully after a few short stints at retail jobs when I first arrived to the city (cough cough, Century 21), I found myself at the Bond Street Billy Reid store, thanks to some great contacts.

    This was when I really started to pay attention to tailored clothing. I grew to love the construction, the cloth, and all the detail that came along with fitting clients as part of our newly established made-to-measure business. It was during this time that Billy started working with Rocco Ciccarelli and his factory in Long Island City; Primo Coat Corp. The brand was growing and eventually Billy’s time did not allow him to take personal appointments with clients, so I was put in charge and given the opportunity to learn directly from Rocco and the pattern-makers/cutters on what goes into making a handmade suit from start to finish. 

    Over many early Saturday mornings, Rocco dropped as much knowledge as he could in our 2-3 hour weekly meetings. Thanks to his generous teachings, I was able to expand the custom business for Billy Reid. From 2010 to 2013, I took hundreds of appointments from 8 different stores across the US, creating custom wardrobes from classic business wear to the finest evening wear. 

    During those years I had a quite a bit of laughs with many of the tailors… A common word I heard when asking for the finish date of a garment was “Domani” (Italian for ‘Tomorrow’). Speaking of jokes about Italian tailors working in NYC, many that I met were named Tony. While trying to learn the roles of all the tailors that operated on a single suit in different capacities, one of the many Tony’s of Primo let me in on a funny anecdote – “When all the Italian boys and men got off the boat, we had “TO – NY” written on our forms and jackets so I guess we all became Tony”. 

    Sadly, the factory closed recently so Primo Coat Corp. is no more. Thankfully, many of the tailors have moved on to positions at other factories and are still making beautiful garments, like this bespoke chalkstripe that always makes me feel a little stronger, especially with the roped shoulders. I like to add quirky casual details, like a truck stop beanie and casual boots – I don’t want anyone to think that I’m taking myself too seriously.”

    mensstylebrandoncapps (47 of 54)mensstylebrandoncapps (50 of 54)mensstylebrandoncapps (52 of 54)mensstylebrandoncapps (54 of 54)

    • Sunglasses by Barton Perreira
    • Black overcoat by Billy Reid
    • Bespoke navy flannel chalkstripe suit by Billy Reid
    • Navy Turtleneck by Ralph Lauren
    • Grey flannel shirt Bespoke
    • Black leather boots by Clarks

    2. Learning & Shifting

    mensstylebrandoncapps (9 of 54)

    “Near the end of 2013, I gradually shifted toward the Wholesale side at Billy Reid. I worked with some of the best boutique stores in the world and it taught me a whole other side of the fashion industry. When working in custom tailoring, you pay little attention to the current fashion world, as tailoring is more about history and personal decisions that best suit a specific client. The wholesale world is where I really began to understand the business side and make relationships in the fashion industry, many of which have flourished into close friendships.

    As far as my personal style, over the last few years my influence has left the strict codes of proper tailoring and I pay more attention to comfort, with restraint of course. It took a long time but I realized that I feel more comfortable in a tailored trouser and a simple knit than anything else. Looking professional is important, but so is looking approachable. I think a good professional in the client services business strikes a balance between the two.”

    mensstylebrandoncapps (14 of 54)

    Here’s a good shot of that Hollywood waistband:

    mensstylebrandoncapps (17 of 54)mensstylebrandoncapps (19 of 54)

    • Black shawl cardigan by Active Cashmere
    • White shirt Bespoke
    • Cream high-waisted trousers Bespoke
    • Brown suede wallabees by Clarks

    3. Breaking Out

    mensstylebrandoncapps (25 of 54)

    “As of Fall 2014, using what I learned under Rocco and Billy, and from all the wholesale connections I’ve made in the industry, I started my own consultancy and multi-brand showroom in SoHo with my business partner Shane Fonner (pictured here) called Outlier Showroom. 

    My business now is about helping up-and-coming brands and designers with production, logistics, and creative branding. As anyone who is just starting their own brand will admit, there are far more moving parts to a successful garment business than making clothes. I’m here to help, because I still remember when I didn’t know anything about the menswear game.”

    mensstylebrandoncapps (31 of 54)mensstylebrandoncapps (35 of 54)mensstylebrandoncapps (39 of 54)mensstylebrandoncapps (36 of 54)

    • Brown herringbone raglan overcoat Vintage
    • Charcoal sweatshirt by Discosurf
    • Black scarf by Active Cashmere
    • Grey pleated high-waisted flannel trouser Bespoke
    • Black leather slippers by Sabah

    Thanks, as always, for reading.

    Yours in style,

    Dan Trepanier


    Photography by Alex Crawford.

    • PG

      I’m generally the first to criticize you Dan, you’re a young fellow Canadian I’ve seen grow and I always expect more. But the note by Paul is a bit off base and touches on a growing concern in the menswear community (and perhaps the age clash of our society overall but I’m not going near that ha). I’ll speak in generalizations below to clarify the issue as I see it.

      In the history of menswear there has been a multitude of styles, which today could be categorized into the key two areas of classic styles (inspired by bespoke tailoring) and fashion garments (trend-based styles off the runway). It appears that the internet has taken these two elements and converged the conversation to #menswear, and as older bespoke houses struggle to capture new consumers, they reach out and reinvent (see Zegna, Hickey Freeman, E Tautz etc) and this is messing with everyone’s heads.

      Young entrepreneurs see this as an opportunity to capitalize on the now-multi-billion dollar fashion industry by bridging the gap between tailoring rules and their peers (the new consumer). Tailoring OG’s meanwhile, see their traditions fading and appear to be upset by what they see is the quick-buck approach to what has always been a hobby for the patient (and the privileged).

      So who’s wrong? Everyone and no one. The new #menswear community will realize that the powers that be still capture most of the market unless they are truly reinventing things as opposed to the simple exploitation of nostalgia. They will likely mess with the suit and move on to things like goth ninja because trends are meant to evolve. The traditionalists need not fear extinction, just inflation. The ‘true tailor’ will be around as long as we hold dear the basic suit (which is kind of ridiculous because it’s only been the benchmark for the past 100 years…we’re way overdue for progress and reinvention) and savile row’s prices will skyrocket accordingly.

      Moral: What about AOS? The bloggers? The new-kids-on-the-block? Well Dan is a storyteller. You’ve read the story from the beginning and it shall continue as a reflection of his (their) path. The ups and downs should not be based on what you want (go do what you want), they simply are. Whether they succeed shall be reflected when they hit market and you hear their names amongst the best (still ain’t Ralph tho). If you don’t like it, move along and evolve – because tailoring, fashion, and #menswear certainly will.

    • levijyron

      Channing Tatum doppelgänger anyone?

    • Papi Moscow

      @ Dan & AOS guys……Btw, were those last couple of pics taken @ Franklin Park in Bklyn? I used to live up the block from that place. Lots of fun times there.

    • James Wong

      Are you trying to reign in a female audience with those butt shots Dan? :p

    • Zhenya

      Dan, LOVE the article. Long time follower of your site and these are the types of stories/articles I get jazzed up about. As a mid-twenty-somthing guy its great hearing about the guys who are following their dreams and trying hard to make it, while the rest of us are tied down by the real world or dont have enough cojones to make the big leap of faith. Looking forward to reading more of this series.

    • Mr Saint

      I have to say I feel exactly the same as Paul below when reading a great deal of the posts on here. I admire the ambition, the drive and the bravery of what they are trying to achieve but I am frankly astonished at the time frames they refer to. As Billy Connolly once so eloquently put it “If you are in your twenties you aren’t an expert at any f**king thing!”. I should point out I am 30 and put myself firmly in this bracket!

      While I also accept that these articles are here to kick off debate and opinion about style this article falls into the ‘peacocking’ strand of menswear. Hollywood waist band trousers, a beanie and clunky Clarks boots? Come on… It is peacocking, plain and obvious.

      • Dan Trepanier

        Billy Connolly was born in 1942. Times are a changin’ Mr Saint! Look around. Young people are changing the world more than ever. Take a look at this and tell me these are not experts in their respective fields:

        • Mr Saint

          Hey Dan,

          Reading the point I made back I did perhaps overstate things a little. Certainly my director who leaves me in charge of a market leading showroom that covers the whole North of England wouldn’t want me talking younger professionals down!

          I love the site and have been a regular reader for a number of years. Sometimes haters will hate and sometimes we just wake up on the wrong side of the bed!

    • khordkutta

      Shoe game is tzight!!!

    • Paul

      I think I’ve realized what’s troubling about these posts: they all highlight guys in their late twenties/early thirties talking about menswear and garment manufacturing as if they were longtime experts and life-long students of garment engineering. What is the value of being an expert if largely every young person featured on this blog actually has, I don’t know, 5-7 years of experience.

      And yet they speak (“…I still remember when I didn’t know anything about the menswear game…” “…I grew to love…” and 1,000 other examples on this blog) as if they’re some grizzled old vets who have finally, after 25 years in the industry, learned and earned their cred.

      Just like how Dan has been running this blog for, what is it?, a decade or so, and he’s an “influencer” and “brand consultant”. I mean, this whole industry (which I’ve worked in for 35 years) is largely run by people, all pretending they are a polished, experienced expert in what they do, which is a bold-faced lie, with “a great deal of knowledge w/r/t” which is also a lie. What is the value of calling yourself an expert if everyone with an outsourced internet outerwear company is an expert? What is the value of saying you’ve got the finger on the pulse when every dude below 14th Street with a slouchy beanie on his head is claiming the same?

      What happened to the Socratic notion that all we know is that we don’t know anything? Perhaps it’s time for me to retire.

      • cam

        Hopefully Dan will answer this more in-depth but I will say you seem to be way off with your generalizations. I went back and read the article and no where is he claiming to be an expert. He’s simply telling his story. If he has some experience and feels he can start a business, let him. It’s really up to his clients to decide if he’s valuable to them. Ralph Lauren started off on his own in his late twenties and I seem to think that worked pretty well for him. Yes, he’s the exception but don’t knock the hustle. Maybe you should follow that Socratic notion you speak of.

        • Paul Anderson

          My comment isn’t meant to be an attack on this young man personally. He is certainly an interesting, well-dressed and motivated young man. You’re right in that I should have made that explicitly clear from the get-go.

          That being said, besides saying I seem to be way off without providing any point to the contrary, I fail to see (obviously) how I am way off. The “industry” of claiming to be an expert (which can be seen in law, banking, etc., as well with the rise of the “consultant” class) is a societal issue writ large. It has been written about extensively. Perhaps fashion isn’t the place to discuss its ramifications, but it is my industry so it is my frame of reference.

          Again, I think I’m one of the older readers of this blog so you’ll forgive me if “Don’t knock the hustle” doesn’t strike me as a trenchant counter point. I assure you, the Socratic notion is very much something I follow and consider every day, can you say the same?

          • Dan Trepanier

            Again, the only person using the word “expert” here is you, Paul. On another note, every day you tell yourself “I know nothing at all”??…humble, sure, but that’s an interesting strategy to be successful and recognized in your industry!

            • Bill

              Some of us are into being “recognized,” especially in the context you’re using the word in, believe it or not. It’s not all about being validated by your peers, there’s much more to life. Hope you understand that one day.

              Also, he made it very clear how he defined expert, using the word consultant, which is all any of these people featured do: consult. And what allows you to consult? Your…………expertise.

              Maybe you should check the editorial tone of your profiles if they’re coming across so haughty to people, instead of marginalizing your readers…..signed, Bill

        • Rob

          Cam, I can understand both points of view here. However, there is a post on this site that garnered a LOT of attention last year regarding “Trends we hope die in 2014” Dan so arrogantly posted that the “cool kids” are the influencer, meaning they have the knowledge and foresight of menswear, when they themselves are stealing from European and Asian cultures and fronting as if they started a trend here in the states. Those of which they copy, have the “time in grade” (superfluous government term) DC resident, sorry. Of years of experience, the grey hair they can wear as a crown to have stolen and made a mockery of by most I see on this site now. Most of the looks presented on this site are completely atrocious, but get backed by the a** kissers that have no mind of their own, and cannot think for themselves. I truly miss the old site, but it’s a thing of the past, especially now he’s centered from LA (worst city for fashion in America). I agree whole-heartedly with Paul’s comments.

          • Dan Trepanier

            Rob, Rob, Rob. I think you missed the point of the trends article… The “cool kids” I was referring to have no idea about fashion knowledge, foresight, or the menswear industry. They are not experts. They simply have the confidence to go against the grain, be themselves, and the charisma to make their peers want to do the same.

            Out of curiosity, which old site are you referring to? And which aspects do you miss? We love this type of feedback, as we’re always trying to make a better experience for our readers.


            • Rob

              In all honesty, Dan…I miss you being “you.” Maybe this is YOU now, maybe I miss what made this site special, things an average man making it in the world. It seems now, this site is dedicated to “pushing limits” “knocking down boundries” which is fine. If that is the route you choose to drive this site down, so-be-it. You have been successful. I, however, find nothing wrong with sticking to classics, and not pushing trends just to push the limits. I follow other successful sites, that stick to classic menswear, which I felt your site was (with your own twists), now I’m sorry, but the site comes off as a bad “pitti” interpretation of menswear. Cheers to you though, really is just me, I cannot get passed some of the looks on here. I will continue to support, even if my comments come across “harsh”

        • Dan Trepanier

          Thanks Cam!

      • Papi Moscow

        Amen brother…..I say this as a 33 yr old whose long term goal is to open my own tailors shop. But I know this isn’t happening for me until maybe age 42-45 (my choice). You see, I actually want to be a TRUE bespoke tailor. Which means more than a suit maker, it means i have extensive knowledge of the human form and I can make clothes which only enhance & never detract. This not only takes a certain skill level but also TIME, no getting around it. I liken it to being a pilot, you need a certain amount of hours in the sky before you get certified whether you’re extremely talented or not.

        To open a shop & have the garments produced in S.E Asia or have a bunch of ACTUAL tailors do all the work in my shop but just be the face of the “brand” is disingenuous. Its amazing how many bespoke tailors of this era dont actually know how to cut (not the brands the actual owners themselves). The faces of some of these high priced shops couldn’t make a simple pair or trousers if they had to.

        But I definitely don’t promote hating on young guys & women accomplishing their dreams. Its just that if you’re an “expert” by your late 20’s/early 30’s, it means you started you’re training @ about age 15.

      • Dan Trepanier

        Hey Paul. Thanks for reading and commenting!

        I’m a little confused. I didn’t use the word “expert” in this piece. This is simply an article to share Brandon’s story, perspective, and style.

        I think the base of your argument here is flawed. You’re equating age with wisdom. Personally, I don’t agree that age brings wisdom, nor does it bring good taste. It’s experience that brings both. Then, of course, there’s the question of talent…which is a whole other topic of conversation.

        I’m not sure what you mean by an “outsourced internet business”, but I agree that there are a lot of bloggers and young people out there giving themselves titles that haven’t been earned and don’t hold any weight. But it’s a fake-it-till-you-make society, especially with social media. Perhaps there’s something to be learned there.

        As far as myself, I’ve been running this blog since 2009 – full-time since 2013 – and it is simply my perspective on menswear and men’s style. It wouldn’t be a very good website if I lived by the words of Socrates. Just keep in mind that style is subjective, and these are my personal opinions…which millions of guys read.

        While I’m not sure where your saltiness is coming from, based on your comment it seems that you are looking for personal recognition for your 35 years in the business. And on that front, I’d love to learn more about what you do, your successes/failures/ambitions, and, of course, your “expertise” that has been “learned and earned”. Perhaps you would be a good subject for our next profile? Email me: with some images and more background!

        All the best,

        • Andrew

          Classy response.

          • Short $SHAK

            Just keep in mind that style is subjective, and these are my personal opinions…which millions of guys read.

            Ha, classy indeed.

    • cam

      Thanks AOS for this story. Very enjoyable read. Question for Brandon if he’s reading. What size is your Billy Reid coat? I’ve been wanting to pull the trigger on one of their pieces and would like to gauge the fit. Thanks!

    • Vincent Nappi

      All these outfits are real nice, but man, what a beautiful coat in look three…

      …AND he manages to make Clarks look cool. Good job, sir.

    • Mitsu

      I could give a shit about Brandon (good on him), but that dude in the camel! More info please!

      • Andrew

        You mean the guy with the printed scarf, cigarette in hand, and overly large overcoat draped over his shoulder, a la Pitti? Yeah, that dude has style hahaha

    • Geezer

      Great motivational article as I sit here running retail after a nite of buying for Fall 2015. I recently quit my ‘adult’ job to join the #menswear world. It is tough at times, but when you see someone make it, and someone who is so in to it, and happy, it makes you want to try harder. Great article and keep up the good work all!

    • Akil McLeod

      This was very inspiring! I love stories like this because they keep me motivated…Thank you!

    • Andrew

      Awesome! This is now one of my favorite posts. Kudos to AOS on the post and kudos to Brandon for having a killer sense of style.

      • Andrew

        Also, that vintage coat in look #3 is gorgeous.

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